Tales from the Inner Sea
The Valheen Magocracy
No other realm in the Inner Sea is regarded with quite the same level of distrust, suspicion and wariness as The Valheen Magocracy. Sorcerors individually are regarded as arrogant, godless heathens meddling with powers best left to the Gods, so the presence of an entire country ruled by them sets tongues wagging and minds racing at the possible horrors lurking on the island of Valheen. This is exaggerated by the Valheeni wall of secrecy that confines visitors to the island to a hugely walled trading based city. Beyond the City of Towers, nothing is known. The island is mountainous and with only one feasible port and landfall, well defended naturally.
For as long as people have lived in the Inner Sea, even before the rise of the Armavines the Valheeni have kept to their rugged island and gone about their inscrutable business. They have little formal contact with the outside world, but maintain delegations in Armarissa, Calvia, Bassur and Ateliket. Their huge seagoing polyreme vessels are a rare sight in the waters of the Inner Sea, but when one appears it is normally a sign that something unusual is in the offing. Most common folk regard the sighting of one as a bad omen.
Little is know of how the Magocracy governs itself but the fact that sorcerors are the ruling class is in no doubt. A Valheeni sorceror travels with an entourage of dozens if not hundreds, he or she swathed in their floor length silk and fur trimmed robes. The rare parts of the body seen by onlookers suggest a heavily tattooed individual. The guards of a Valheeni sorceror are known to be heavily augmented with enchantments and sorceries to make them a terrible foe in battle.
The common valheen citizen encountered within the City of Towers seems much like a normal person in Armarissa for example, though they use sorcery in small fashion about their day. Small shrines are permitted by the Magocracy in the City of Towers, allowing visitors and resident outlanders to worship in some fashion, but no religious intolerance or disturbance is permitted, and no proselytizing is allowed. What is known is that the common valheeni citizen shows great deference to the Sorcerors and takes a poor view of those who don’t show correct respect for their sorcerous rulers. The City itself numbers between 25,000 and 50,000, though an exact figure is not known as the Valheeni “discourage” any attempt by external peoples to count or take a census. Many wonder how a city of this size can be supported on an island not blessed with much farmland or obvious sources. To say “It’s just sorcery” is not sufficient answer to the clever, wise or some might say “terminally curious”.
The Magocracy create wondrous items and are enchanters of awesome skill, something that draws people of wealth, need and desperation. They also craft and trade the greatest weapons and items known to the Inner Sea (not counting the Dwarves, who don’t trade as a rule with humans), and sometimes have been known to create great civic works for nations prepared to pay great sums. Money is not the only thing that motivates them, as on rare occasions they have been known to do works free for individual people and countries if it suits their enigmatic ends.
The Valheeni racially are pale, with fair hair and piercing ice blue eyes, with no indication that they have been affected by the hot sun of the Inner Sea. Popular pastimes for a valheeni commoner feature taverns, reading (their culture has a very high degree of literacy it would seem) and appreciation of the world about them, as evidenced with their parks and waterways within the City. Whilst theatre exists and is appreciated in some of the civilized areas of the Inner Sea, it is very popular within The Valheen Magocracy, and their unique Lightsculpture and Illusion Plays are a sorcery specific form of entertainment much appreciated by them and aesthetes of other cultures.
Regarding war and defence, the Valheeni don’t seem to have a standing army as such, having a corps of bodyguards and protectors for their sorcerors and some dark clad law enforcers on the City’s streets. The last time a war broke out between them and another was a war with the Armavine Empire 800 years previously in the Empires earlier expansionist years, when an invasion fleet of 100 ships carrying 10,000 soldiers was sunk by a horrific hurricane that the Valheeni sorcerors made quite clear was of their creation. They also advised that any future attack by any nation would result in such a great storm being visited on the lands of the invaders origins, and would be much bigger. Since then nobody has threatened them, and the Valheeni have left the other nations alone.
The only nation that the Valheeni seem to have any professed opinion about is Calvia, which seems to be favorable goodwill short of an actual alliance. Most people regard that as yet another random Valheeni act, though the philosopher Maccartes of Rhasses in the Armavine Empire believes it is a tactical proclamation to counteract Voyan adventurism. The Valheeni aren’t talking. Their attitude to the Armavine Empire is respectfully neutral given their history, with much better relations since the Great Civil War (Empress Armanixes mended political fences with the Sorcerors throughout her reign). Only a nation or state that the Valheeni seem to respect in some way has a Delegation within it for diplomatic (such as Valheeni diplomacy is) and commercial purposes, though some say it’s just as much down to keeping an eye on the neighbours. Any realm or land who are approached by the Valheeni and offered a Delegation can regard it as an honour and a feeling of having “arrived”, though some suspsicious types feel it is a mixed blessing as well.